CBI appoints SHS boss as regional chair

New CBI NI chair Elaine Birchall (right) with the organisation's regional director Angela McGowan
New CBI NI chair Elaine Birchall (right) with the organisation's regional director Angela McGowan

CONSUMER goods chief Elaine Birchall is taking over the chair's role at CBI Northern Ireland.

Widely recognised as one of the most respected CEOs in the north, she succeeds banker Adrian Doran, who will now assume the post of vice-chair until the end of this year

Elaine joined SHS Group as chief executive in 2015 and has overseen a growth in turnover to £655 million, with the group now employing more than 1,200 people in the UK and Ireland.

Before joining SHS, she held management and leadership roles in Europe, the USA and South Pacific for Colgate Palmolive.

She previously led PZ Cussons UK as managing director and managed operations in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya as area director for PZ Cussons Africa.

Elaine has served as CBI NI vice chair since January 2021 and formerly held a three-year term as a member of the CBI Northern Ireland Council. A board member of Business in the Community, in 2018 she claimed the Outstanding Business Woman of the Year accolade at the NI Women in Business Awards.

In June last year, Elaine was awarded an MBE as part of the Queen’s birthday honours list for services to economic development in Northern Ireland.

CBI NI director Angela McGowan said: “A massive congratulations to Elaine. She brings an abundance of professional experience at such a critical time for local businesses – who are looking to lift their gaze beyond the pandemic, move beyond the cost-of-living crisis, and ensure lasting economy recovery takes hold.

“Elaine’s experience in diverse international markets and strong member insight will be invaluable in the CBI’s mission to represent the views of businesses of all shapes and sizes to policy-makers.

“I also express our sincere gratitude to Adrian Doran for his leadership over the past two and a half years. As we navigate one of the most challenging periods in memory, his thoughtfulness, wisdom and verve have been essential.”

Elaine Birchall said: “There is such a wealth of talent, and enterprise in Northern Ireland and, by speaking with one voice, businesses can continue to optimise and influence outcomes for our society. I am committed to ensuring CBI continues to play an integral role in creating a thriving economy to benefit everyone.

“Throughout the pandemic, the CBI has led the way in terms of working with business and government to support companies.

“We will continue to act as an agent of change as we look at investment in innovation, skills and sustainability. These are the foundations on which we can build a competitive, dynamic, future-focused Northern Ireland economy for the decade ahead.”